Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly July 20-26, 2015: Vietnamese Worldwide Conduct Hunger Strike to Demand for Better Human Rights and Release of All Prisoners of Conscience
Defenders’ Weekly | 26-07-2015
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Hundreds of Vietnamese worldwide participated in the World Hunger Strike Day on Saturday [July 25]. In many places across Vietnam, the one-day event passed without serious troubles while in Vietnam’s central city of Nha Trang, police detained three local activists Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Truong Hoang Anh and Nguyen Phi Tam, and beat them in a police station.
On the same day, Duong Noi village-based land petitioner Can Thi Theu was released after completing a 15-month imprisonment.
On July 21, the private house of Catholic priest Phan Van Loi was attacked with dirty substances.
Although freedom of movement is enshrined in the country’s Constitution 2013, the communist government has barred many activists, including Dr. Nguyen Dan Que and Mr. Pham Ba Hai from freely moving within the country or traveling abroad.
and many other news.
U.S. Always Prioritizes Human Rights: Newly-released Activist
The U.S. is always prioritizing human rights and democracy, considering these things as its basic values, said Hanoi-based lawyer Le Quoc Quan, who completed his 30-month imprisonment on June 26.
Speaking in his interview given to BBC on July 19 about recent diplomatic development between Vietnam and the U.S., Mr. Quan said “The U.S. prioritizes democracy and human rights and shares these values with the whole world. But in different periods and depends on its purposes, the U.S. will implement by different methods and measures. It will not ignore these values and in Vietnam, there are many people in the government who are willing to respect human rights and improve democracy since these are valuable values.”
He said he is optimistic about the Vietnamese government’s intention to release prisoners of conscience and the U.S. will raise these issues in negotiations with the Southeast Asian nation.
Mr. Quan was freed in late June after completing his 30-month imprisonment on the charge of tax evasion which he rejected, considering the accusation illegal.
U.S. Second Lady Emphasizes Need to Give More Power to Women during Her Visit to Vietnam
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S.’s Vice President Joe Biden, was in Saigon as a part of her visit to four Asian countries. Dr Biden emphasized the need to give more power to women in economics and promote the rights of women and young girls.
On July 20, the White House released a press statement, saying Dr. Biden is joined by Catherine Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues; Scot Marciel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and Christie Vilsack, Senior Advisor for International Education, USAID.
Accordingly, the U.S.’s Second Lady will visit VinEcom to speak on the importance of businesses creating opportunities for entrepreneurship and education, especially for young girls.
State-controlled Cao Dai Sector Complicit in Halting Religious Freedom in Vietnam
Members of the state-controlled Cao Dai sect have cooperated with security forces to prevent followers of real Cao Dai Buddhist sect in An Hoa commune, Trang Bang district in Vietnam’s southern province of Tay Ninh from gathering for prayers. Members of the state-controlled sect, with support of local police, came to stop their praying and persecuted followers.
About 50 followers of the real sect were beaten.
This is the second time followers of the unsanctioned sect were attacked by the state-controlled sect members but police officers did not intervene.
The attack is an evidence that Vietnam has no freedom of religion.
Young Boy Wearing Zombie Shirt Detained by Police for 12th Day
Saigon-based boy Nguyen Thanh Phuoc has been detained by local police for the 12th day just because he was wearing a shirt with a Zombie emblem while taking pictures with his friends in the city’s center.
On July 11, policemen blocked the areas of a fountain in Nguyen Hue street and arrested several young individuals just because they were wearing shirts with a Zombie emblem which is a sign representing a spontaneous campaign of young Vietnamese which condemns the brutal and corrupt communist government and calls young generation to wake up, open their eyes and use their brain to think, rather than remain as zombies–the walking dead without soul.
After demanding the detained individuals to pledge to change their shirts, police released all of them but not Nguyen Phi who refused to provide information about the person who supplied their shirt.
Later, police searched his house for Zombie shirts and confiscated his personal computer.
The released boys said they did not agree with their detention, saying the act was illegal.
Ta Minh Tu Calls for Freedom of Her Ill Sister Ta Phong Tan, Who Is Held in Prison
Ta Minh Tu, the younger sister of imprisoned blogger Ta Phong Tan, told the Committee for the Protection of Journalists that her sister is inhumanely treated in a prison in Vietnam. She calls for her sister’s immediate release.
As an independent blogger, Miss Tan condemned abuses of Vietnam’s judicial system in Vietnam. She was sentenced to ten years in jail for anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the Criminal Code.
Due to severe conditions in prison, Tan’s health has worsened.
Earlier this year, Tan conducted a three-week hunger strike to protest inhumane treatment in prison. Currently, Tan is held in a solitary cell in a small room without any window.
Private House of Catholic Priest Phan Van Loi Attacked with Dirty Substance
On July 21, many strangers threw six packs containing dirty substance into the private house of Catholic priest Phan Van Loi in Hue city. They also attacked his house with stones.
Priest Loi said his family has no conflicts with any individual and the attacks are likely committed by thugs hired by the local government.
The priest Loi, an activist advocating human rights and democracy, said he has received a number of anonymous letters threatening him and demanding him to stop criticizing the government.
Lm PhanVanLoi: Nhà Linh mục Phan Văn Lợi bị ném phân thối
Vietnam Police Tighten Control Ahead of Planned Massive Hunger Strike of Local Activists
Vietnam’s security forces in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have been tightening their control few days ahead of a planned hunger strike of many local activists.
Hundreds of human rights activists and political dissidents, mostly in the two biggest cities, are planning to hold a fast as part of the World Hunger Strike Day organized by Vietnamese worldwide to demand for human rights improvement in the communist nation in the Southeast Asia, and immediate release of prisoners of conscience.
The Vietnamese communist government has not tolerated any form of public protest, and has sought to halt the hunger strike which will start on Saturday and last 24 hours.
Many activists in HCM City and Hanoi have been reported that local authorities have sent security agents to patrol their houses. Activists said they may not be allowed to go out on Saturday.
Miss Pham Thanh Nghien, a former political prisoner in Haiphong, said a group of four-five plainclothes agents are stationing near her house and question everyone who come to visit her. Even the agents threw stones in her house but so far none has been injured.
Saigon-based Pham Ba Hai, who is currently visiting Hanoi, was detained by Hanoi police for questioning for two hours on Thursday’s morning. The local police also requested him to leave the city and threatened to take tough moves if he refuses the demand.
Vietnam’s human rights situation is still very bad although the country was elected to the UN Human Rights Council last year.
The communist government has intensified crackdown against local dissidents and human rights activists, and used controversial articles to silence government critics.
According to international human rights bodies, Vietnam is holding between 150 and 200 political dissidents, human rights activists and bloggers. Hanoi always denies, saying it has imprisoned only law violators.
Hanoi Police Block Private House of Local Famous Dissident
On July 21, Hanoi police blocked the private house of Dr. Nguyen Thanh Giang, a well-known political dissident, not allowing him to receive other local activists.
On the day, Dr. Giang invited dozens of local activists to his private house after Vietcombank allowed him to withdraw money from his account in the bank. However, police blocked his house and did not allow the visitors to go inside his house. Police officers also banned the visitors from taking pictures.
Earlier, police demanded the bank to freeze his account, saying he uses the account to receive financial assistance from anti-government organizations and individuals abroad.
However, Thanh, with support from local activists, protested the bank’s move. Many activists held a number of street demonstrations demanding the bank to allow him to withdraw money in his account.
NguyenTuongThuy: Nhà Tiến sĩ Nguyễn Thanh Giang bị phong tỏa
Vietnam Security Forces Halt Freedom of Movements of Many Activists
Vietnam’s security forces on July 23 blocked a number of activists, including Dr. Nguyen Dan Que and India-trained master Pham Ba Hai, from going out.
Saigon-based activist Hai informed that at 9.00 am, Hanoi security agents went to his room in a private hotel in the city’s center and took him to a police station in Hang Trong ward in Hoan Kiem district. Police officers questioned about the purposes of his visit in Hanoi but Mr. Hai refused to answer their questions. After two hours of interrogation in which Mr. Hai remained silent, police released him but demanded him to leave the city. They threatened to deport him to Ho Chi Minh City where he resides. However, Hai refused to leave the hotel.
On the same day, police in HCM City also blocked Dr. Que’s house, forcing him to stay inside.
The police’s moves were likely aimed at preventing the planned massive hunger strike on July 25 which demands better human rights protection in Vietnam and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience.
Vietnamese Activists Hold Massive Hunger Strike to Demand for Human Rights Improvement, Many Brutally Beaten
Hundreds of Vietnamese activists nationwide on July 25 went on a one-day hunger strike to request the communist government to improve its human rights record and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience. Many of the hunger strikers have been brutally beaten by security forces, according to reports on social media.
Activists in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Haiphong and many other cities and provinces started their fast at 8.00 am, gathering in public places in groups. The World Hunger Strike Day was launched by the We Are One campaign which aims to promote human rights in the communist nation.
In Hanoi, human rights campaigners planned to hold the hunger strike in Bach Thao Park. However, local authorities closed the park on Saturday, forcing activists to form many groups in different places to continue their fasting activities.
One ten-member group in Ho Tay Lake was suppressed by numerous police and security agents who came to request an administrative check. Police tried to detain the activists and confiscate their banners, but they met strong protest from human rights advocates and couldn’t take the banners.
In Nha Trang, a number of activists, including Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Me Nam), who was the recipient of the 2015 Civil Rights Defender of Year Award given by the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders, Nguyen Huy Tam, and Vo Truong Thien were detained to Loc Tho ward police station where policemen severely beat the hunger-striking activists. Ms. Quynh had bleeding on her face.
Nha Trang police also arrested blogger Pham Van Hai and kept him in an unknown location. So far, there has been no information about Mr. Hai’s fate.
Former political prisoner Pham Thanh Nghien from Haiphong informed that police have been blocking her private house since early Friday and throwing stones into the house.
In Saigon, the biggest economic hub in Vietnam, police have blocked numerous activists from leaving their houses. However, many of them have succeeded to gather in Ky Dong Redemptory’s Church to hold the fast.
Due to police persecution, a number of activists have been forced to stay in their houses to hold the hunger strike.
Thousands of Vietnamese expats in many countries, including the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Scandinavian region have also conducted the fast to support their patriots in the home country.
In order to keep the country under one-party regime, the Vietnamese communist government has applied a number of controversial Penal Code articles such as articles 79, 88, and 258 to criminalize government critics.
In the past few years, Hanoi has intensified its political crackdown, arresting and imprisoning hundreds of political dissidents, bloggers and human rights activists.
According to international human rights bodies, Vietnam is holding between 150 and 200 prisoners of conscience. Hanoi always denies holding prisoners of conscience, saying only law violators are imprisoned.
Saigon-based Human Rights Activist Detained by Hanoi Police, Interrogated for Massive Hunger Strike
Security forces in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi on July 25 detained Pham Le Vuong Cac, a Saigon-based human rights activist who is currently visiting Hanoi, and questioned him about a massive hunger strike which occurs in Hanoi and other big Vietnamese cities.
At 7.00 am, a group of ten security agents stumped into a hotel room where Mr. Cac is staying and detained him to the police station in Hang Bo ward, Hoan Kien district for interrogating him about his role in the on-going hunger strike which demands the Vietnamese communist government to respect human rights and release all prisoners of conscience.
After four hours of questioning, police released Mr. Cac.
Mr. Cac said the police chief in Hang Bo ward told him that he can offer the Saigon-based visitor a better accommodation for next visits in Hanoi, with conditions that Mr. Cac will not stay in his ward because he does not want to get troubles with unwanted visitors.
Few days ago, Mr. Pham Ba Hai was also detained by Hanoi police when he is visiting the capital city. The police demanded him to leave for Saigon, and they will forcibly expel him if he fails to obey their request. Mr. Hai is a former political prisoner and a coordinator of the unsanctioned Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience.
On Saturday, hundreds of activists in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Haiphong, Nha Trang and other localities are conducting the massive fast to demand for better human rights in Vietnam and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience.
Few days ago, Vietnam’s security forces have tightened control over security in major cities when local activists declared about the hunger strike. Police have blocked many activists from gathering for hunger strike.
Land Petitioner Sent to Psychiatric Hospital
Nghe An province-based land petitioner Ho Thi Lien has been arrested by Hanoi police and sent to a psychiatric hospital, the second time within eight month.
Earlier this month, she was detained by police when she went to the government office in Ha Don district to complain about the illegal seizure of her family’s land by local officials.
She has filed denunciations of the illegal grabbing of 1,000 square meters of land by the Chairman of the People’s Committee, Tran Quoc Viet, and other officials in Thanh Chuong commune for the past 20 years.
Saigon-based Lien Tri Pagoda Blocked by Local Police
Security forces in Ho Chi Minh City on July 24 blocked all routes leading to Lien Tri Pagoda in District 2, not allowing people to visit the pagoda.
The move was to prevent local activists from coming to the pagoda to participate in a hunger strike which aims to demand the Vietnamese government to respect human rights and release all prisoners of conscience, said Venerable Thich Khong Tanh, head of the pagoda.
Land Petitioner Can Thi Theu Completes 15-month Imprisonment
Duong Noi commune-based land petitioner Can Thi Theu was released on July 25 after completing her 15-month imprisonment.
Last year, Theu was tried by Ha Dong district People’s Court on the allegation of conducting activities against on-duty state officers who came to evict her family and other families in Duong Noi from their land which was grabbed by local authorities for property projects.
Prison authorities brought her to a place ten kilometers from the prison in Thanh Hoa province. They also refused to return all her personal belongings.
Later, Theu was picked up by her relatives and activists who came to welcome her.
Theu said her health is good and she will continue to fight for land illegally taken by local authorities.
Last month, her husband also completed imprisonment in Nghe An province. He was also accused of committing activities against the police during land seizure.
On the day of her husband’s release, police brutally beat her sons and other activists coming to the prison to pick him up.
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